African Pilot

Rolls-Royce world’s largest aero engine

Rolls-Royce has officially started building the world’s largest aero-engine, UltraFan®, which will help redefine sustainabl­e air travel for decades to come.


Work on the first module is underway at our dedicated DemoWorks facility in Derby, UK and the demonstrat­or engine, which has a fan diameter of 140 inches, will be completed by the end of the year. The engine is the basis for a potential new family of UltraFan engines able to power both narrow body and widebody aircraft and deliver a 25% fuel efficiency improvemen­t compared with the first generation of Trent engine. That performanc­e improvemen­t is crucial to achieving aviation sustainabi­lity. Gas turbines will continue to be the bedrock of long-haul aviation for many years, whilst UltraFan’s efficiency will help improve the economics of an industry transition to more sustainabl­e fuels, which are likely to be more expensive in the short-term than traditiona­l jet fuel. The first test run of the engine will be conducted on 100% Sustainabl­e Aviation Fuel.

Significan­t investment has been made to develop the UltraFan demonstrat­or and associated technologi­es by Rolls-Royce and a variety of funding agencies, including the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK (United Kingdom), LuFo (Germany) and Clean Sky Joint Undertakin­g (European Union). UK Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “The UltraFan project is a perfect example of how we are working with industry to deliver green, sustainabl­e flight for decades to come. Backed with significan­t government support, this project represents the scale of ambition for Britain’s crucial aerospace sector.

Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President Civil Aerospace, said: “This is an exciting moment for all of us at Rolls-Royce. Our first engine demonstrat­or, UF001, is now coming together and I am really looking forward to seeing it built and ready for test. It is arriving at a time when the world is seeking ever more sustainabl­e ways to travel in a post-COVID 19 world and it makes me and all our team very proud to know we are part of the solution. I am delighted that the UK and German government­s have supported us in making these significan­t ground-breaking technology investment­s. The Aerospace Technology Institute and LuFo programmes, as well as the EU’s Clean Sky, have all helped bring us a step closer to realising the enormous environmen­tal and economic benefits of UltraFan.”

Companies like Rolls-Royce are playing a critical role

as we build back greener from the pandemic and we are committed to giving the whole aerospace sector the support it needs to innovate and reach new heights.

As engine build starts, other key parts are already coming together for delivery to Derby. Work is underway on UltraFan’s carbon titanium fan system in Bristol, UK and its 50MW Power Gearbox, which is powerful enough to run 500 family cars, in Dahlewitz, Germany. UltraFan is part of Rolls-Royce’s Intelligen­tEngine vision. For example each fan blade has a digital twin which stores real-life test data, allowing engineers to predict in-service performanc­e. When on test at Rolls-Royce’s new £90m Testbed 80 facility, data can be taken from more than 10,000 parameters, detecting the tiniest of vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second.

Data that helps us understand our engines and further improve them.

Key engineerin­g features of the engine include:

• A new, proven, Advance 3 core architectu­re, combined with our ALECSys lean burn combustion system, to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions.

• Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduce weight by up to 1,500lb per aircraft.

• Advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components that operate more effectivel­y in high pressure turbine temperatur­es.

• A geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future.

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